Newspoll: 55-45

The latest Newspoll confirms the trend of recent Morgan and Essential Research results in showing an easing in Labor’s lead, from 58-42 in the previous two fortnightly surveys to 55-45. Labor’s primary vote has dropped five points to 42 per cent, its lowest level since November, but the Coalition’s is up only one point to 38 per cent. The Greens’ account for two points of the difference, up from 9 to 11 per cent. Malcolm Turnbull’s approval rating has dropped a further point to a new low of 36 per cent. Kevin Rudd’s preferred prime minister rating is down three points to 64 per cent, while Malcolm Turnbull is steady on 19 per cent.

UPDATE: Graphic here (how long have they been waiting to use that photo of Kevin Rudd?). Interesting supplementary question on what the government should have done with the stimulus package money – 78 per cent say they would have preferred it be spent on infrastructure, which is the kind of opinion poll response political operatives hesitate to believe. Opinion is divided on whether promised tax cuts should go ahead as planned.

Other news:

Essential Research has Labor’s two-party lead nudging downwards for the fourth week in a row. It’s now at 57-43, compared with 63-37 on April 6. The survey also reveals slightly more optimism on the economy than was recorded in mid-March, mixed messages on what should be done in the budget, a persistence of illiberal attitudes towards asylum seekers, and a widespread belief that Pacific nations such as Fiji should be “left to sort out their own affairs”.

• An anonymous business figure tells Glenn Milne of The Australian that “major business donors” have a hit list of 14 MPs who must make way for new blood if the Liberal Party is to get their donations. These are Bronwyn Bishop (Mackellar) and Philip Ruddock (Berowra), Kevin Andrews (Menzies), Alby Schultz (Hume), Joanna Gash (Gilmore), Judi Moylan (Pearce), Wilson Tuckey (O’Connor), Margaret May (McPherson), Andrew Laming (Bowman), Michael Johnson (Ryan) and Alex Somlyay (Fairfax), along with Nationals John Forrest (Mallee) and Bruce Scott (Maranoa) plus one lone Senator, former Howard numbers man Bill Heffernan. Some of these point to the Coalition’s undoubted surplus of MPs past their use-by date, as noted in detail recently by Peter van Onselen in The Australian. Others on the list fall well below van Onselen’s nominated cut-off point of 60 years of age, the most striking examples being Johnson (39) and Laming (42). Milne’s source also reckons Barnaby Joyce is “divisive and not a team player or a regional centre vote winner” – the latter judgement at least seems a very big call. While Milne describes the list as “non-factional”, Liberal sources are evidently putting it to Andrew Bolt that responsibility for the article ultimately lies with party treasurer and Turnbull ally Michael Yabsley, who scores an indirect compliment from Milne’s source.

Submissions for the redistribution of New South Wales federal elections have been published, compelling the major parties to suggest which electorate they think should be eliminated. The Liberals have excitingly decided the axe should be wielded on their own turf, suggesting Kay Hull’s seat of Riverina and Alby Schultz’s seat of Hume be merged into a new seat called Bradman. Schultz has reacted by calling for a return to rural malapportionment. Ben Raue notes that the Liberals want territory transferred from Wentworth to Sydney, which would at once make Malcolm Turnbull safer while leaving Tanya Plibersek more vulnerable to the Greens. Labor’s submission calls for the abolition of Pat Farmer’s seat of Macarthur further to the north, where the Liberals propose to strengthen their position by adding territory from Hume.

• Swoon over the new-look Crikey. Now no longer featuring my goofy 2004 vintage mug on the front page, praise the Lord.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

1,434 comments on “Newspoll: 55-45”

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  1. Health care

    We tried to limit health costs by limiting the supply of doctors, that worked out well didn’t it, the baby boomers still got old. The inability of people to look at the statistics and work out what that means a couple of decades down the track never ceases to amaze me. Most of the baby boomers will all be dead in 20 Years. The problem will solve itself.

  2. Removing fixed-terms can only do so much. What this country needs is a recall provision like they have in such diverse places as California and Venezuala. This is how the ‘Governator’ came to power and Chavez survived one of these. If a certain percentage of the NSW electorate sign a document saying that they had lost faith in the parliament then it would be disbanded. It would have to be very thoroughly checked out by the electoral agency and it should have a really high number needed like 30% of the registered voters. Both houses would then be fully vacated and fresh elections would ensue.

    I support citizen initiated referendoms too. Nevertheless I did freak out a bit when NZ was going to have one on parents being allowed to beat their kids brought forward by the religious right. I’d suggest that the legislation proposing citizen initiated reforendoms should have some provision that the new laws can’t break any international treaties OR human rights etc.

  3. Tom
    [the Senate is more representative]
    I wholeheartedly concur. I’d also say that party groupings on the Senate voting paper further dilute the proportional results. And most importantly the government is formed by the less representative chamber. (Shhh, to paraphrase Basil Fawlty – don’t mention the ProR)

    The Heysen
    There was no split in NSW in the 50s, and the Catholic hardcore was never excised from the party. Johnno Johnson is gone from the house now, but no doubt there are still some real nutbags around driven by the imaginary who rival David Clarke from the NSW Libs. Christina Keneally is certainly one (see her pre-‘world’ youth day big brother antics).

    [Most of the baby boomers will all be dead in 20 Years. The problem will solve itself.]
    Could you make that, say, an average of 30 years, please, if it’s not too much trouble? I have a lot left on my list.

  4. #1353, easy the first ref is something like this: Do you agree that all subsequent refs can be inconsistent with Aust’s international obligations etc etc.

  5. Stan S
    [#1353, easy the first ref is something like this: Do you agree that all subsequent refs can be inconsistent with Aust’s international obligations etc etc.]
    My guess is that such a referendom would be voted down, especially since you’d probably have every political party in parliament opposing it.
    Also any citizen initiated referendom laws would have to have pretty clear-cut terms of reference: there can’t be referendums changing that CIR legislation or budget, etc. Perhaps you could make it that CIR can only remove statutes but not add new ones. Or you could make it that if enough singnators are taken then a vote must occur but the government can choose to ignore it if it wants to break a mild convention and then at the next general election or CI election the people can replace the government with someone that listens to them. All posibilities.

  6. JV
    I realize there was no split in NSW in the 50’s. My question is: today, Australia wide, does the ALP get the majority of the (devote) Catholic vote? Or did they drift from the ALP to the DLP and then on to the COALition once the DLP died?

  7. CIRs have bankrupted California and would bankrupt Australia too. People will always vote for spending proposals and against taxation proposals. This is one of the most foolisha and irresponsible ideas in political debate, because it separates spending from political responsibility.

  8. I’d be pretty certain that the majority of Australian Catholics vote Labor. Of course the ethnic composition of Australian Catholicism has changed greatly since the 1950s.

  9. Heyson
    I don’t know what the DLP supporters did after the party died, or the current internal polling – maybe some here do – but my bet would be that the devout Catholic vote went straight back to the ALP (that is to the ALP right). Look at the catholic school funding for a start. And there are clearly devout Catholic members in Federal parliament. Dare I mention senator Conroy? I wonder how many Fed Parliamentarians go to services at parliament when it sits? Anyone know? I’d like to know so I know who among my representatives is deluded, apart from from those I have already sussed out – like Conroy.

  10. Psephos @ 1357
    I have been given to understand that somtimes one must hold one’s breath for the duration – even on dry land.

  11. [How do dolphins mate?]

    Now you humans, dont get jealous, especially the male variety. suffer.

    [Q2) How do I know if a dolphin wants to have sex?

    A2) There are various ways a dolphin has of showing that she or he is interested in sex.

    Males are probably the easiest to detect. They will swim around, sporting an erection (anywhere between 10 to 14 inches long for a Bottle-nose), and will have no bones about swimming up to you and placing their member within reach of your hand. If you are in the water, they may rub it along any part of your body, or wrap it around your wrist or ankle. (Dolphin males have a prehensile penis. They can wrap it around objects, and carry them as such.) Their belly will also be pinkish in colour, which also denotes sexual excitement.

    Females can be a little harder. The most obvious way a female dolphin has of displaying her sexual interest is the pink-belly effect. Their genitals become very pink and swollen, making the genital region very prominent. They may be restless, or they may be acting as normal. If you are out of the water, they may swim up to you and roll belly up, exposing themselves to you, coupled with pelvic thrusts. If you are in the water, they may press their genitals up against yours, nibble your fingers, nuzzle your crotch, or do pelvic thrusts against you.]

  12. [Yes Adam I have my doubts about CIR too but I still support CI early elections.]

    Then governments will be even less likely to take tough, unpopular but necessary decisions for fear the public will immediately call for an election and vote them out.

    We don’t need CIR or anything like that because we put our trust in elected representatives.

  13. I wouldn’t oppose recall-by-petition if the threshold was 50% – if a majority of voters give a witnessed signature to a recall petition. In practice that would almost never happen. I doubt 50% would sign a recall petition even against Rees now.

  14. [What’s your solution to the endless spiral of health costs, Dr Dio?]

    That’s not the issue. Just last year Rudd said they were committed to it. They broke a committment.

  15. [That’s not the issue. Just last year Rudd said they were committed to it. They broke a committment.]
    Now, what does GFC stand for again?

  16. The Heyson
    Preliminary research shows this religion in parliament thing is a bit of a worry. It seems that in 2006 about 30% of all members and senators were attending services of the Federal Parliamentary Christian Fellowship – cross-denominational and cross-party, not just Catholics, and this compares to about 9% of the general population who attend services.

    This from a speech by Democrats senator Lyn Allison in 2006:
    [The Federal Parliamentary Christian Fellowship organises regular prayer breakfasts which are addressed by invited ministers and last year a Christian chaplain was appointed to the Parliament.

    In 1993 a Parliamentary Prayer Network was established for people to gather and pray in Parliament House. This group has a schools programme which links Christian schools with members and Senators. And you can contact them if you are interested in upcoming elections not their own but state and federal government elections.And in 2005 the Parliamentary Prayer Network hosted a two-day conference in the great hall of Parliament House a conference on the theme of “Prayer, Nations and Government’ and which included church services.

    The guest speaker at that conference was Texan prophet Cindy Jacobs who believes that Christians must take over the world through its governments, exhorts Christians to train their children for martyrdom on the mission field in the final clash of civilizations and has prophesied that Australia will be come a theocracy.]

    Texan prophet??? And a bi-partisan 30% of members participate in this stuff????
    I can’t imagine the numbers would have dropped after the 2007 election either. Oh, Lord.

  17. My opinion on CIR has had a bit of time to mature and Itep and Adam make good points. It comes with good and bad and It seems hard to find a formula which allows some good without letting in the bad too. 50% seems a bit high for a recall though, it has to be low enough to actually happen and not just be used for publicity stunts. I reckon it should happen on average once every 25 years or so.

    The micro political party ‘Senator Online’ ran with the policy that if elected they would choose how they voted on every bill depending on the outcome of an AEC-backed online poll of state voters. I think they also said they’d put forward as a private members bill any bill that enough people say they want. This sounds very reasonble to me. It would completely tranform political debate if a Senator Online senator held the balance of power. Public opinion would becom more central to debate and organisations would put out ads urging people how to make the Online Senator vote. I wouldnt like Senator Online or ‘MP Online’ winning a majority of seats but it would be good to have them in there as the ultimate ‘keep the bastards honest’ party.

  18. Adam:

    another in the “God I hate Wikipedia” column for you:

    Another Polish nationalist is claiming that the Belarusians and Ukrainians would have been far better off in Poland post-1945 – I’m refraining from reminding him that the Poles treated their minorities appallingly pre-1945 and would probably have continued to do so – or at least until something forced them to change

  19. Senator Online was a ludicrously bad idea.

    The vast number of votes that occur in the Senate on so many different matters would make it a huge mess. Not to mention any online polls would be flooded by political hacks and interest groups.

    It’s not that hard for people to choose a party/independent that they think will represent their interests and then vote for that party/independent.

  20. Also the ‘Senator Online’ would not be able to be held accountable for any of their decisions… their speeches would consist entirely of “I put this poll up on my website and here are the results’.

    There’d be little to no incite into voting decisions etc. etc.

  21. [They broke a committment.]

    Yeah Bob – they should continue with all of the middle class welfare during a GFC and to hell with fiscal responsibility.

  22. I agree the governments ought to keep their promises, but there is a legitimate force majeure defence in politics as well as at law.
    At the 1940 elections Roosevelt promised to keep the US out of WW2. So when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, should he have said, “Sorry, I promised to keep us out of the war and I am bound by that promise”? No, he should have declared war, which he did. Some of the things Rudd promised to do, or not to do, in 2007 have clearly now been overtaken by the GFC and cannot responsibly be done. The overriding promise that all governments make is to provide sound and responsible government.

  23. I must say I think Turnbull is using this Jekyl (can’t remember the correct spelling) and Hyde approach effectively. It’s wrong of course but it is simple and will probably go over well with the non -thinkers.

  24. The News had Turnbull talking about how the government handed out money to people and now they’re taking it off people and he used the term Jekyl and Hyde to describe them.

  25. Just to further clarify 1383
    ….. and now they’re taking it off people by removing the 30% private health rebate for middle and high income earners……

  26. Turnbull’s problems are two-fold- firstly, the Howard government was the master at taking with one hand and giving back with the other and secondly, they were the masters at broken promises. Credibility rating? Zero

  27. Itep
    I haven’t looked at it closely but my guess is that they’d only bother taking a poll on contentious bills, not unanimous motions to welcolme the delegation from the Micronesian parliament. It wouldn’t always be possible to take a poll for every motion because obviously there isnt always going to be time for it. The onlne poll would be monitered and run by the AEC, they’d do their best to prevent multiple voting by making you sign your name off the list and use a password. If we can have online banking then we can have online voting. Estonia already uses online voting for general elections. Interest groups couldn’t rort it, the best they could do would be to push their members to vote.

  28. [Estonia already uses online voting for general elections. Interest groups couldn’t rort it, the best they could do would be to push their members to vote.]

    They could hack it. If hackers can hack the Pentagon they can hack the AEC. No-one will trust online voting.

  29. CIR is a load of cobblers. There is a very prevalent misunderstanding of Australia’s system and that is it is a representative democracy not a particpative one. So proponents of CIR are effectively proposing a complete change to Austrlia’s system of government….good luck getting that up given we can’t even decide on who our head of state should be.

  30. Thanks Scorpio 1322,

    I guess this quote from the Future fund site (below) might explain why, but, in my niavety, I can’t rationalise spending almost $14 million (2007/2008 – as I interpret it) to achieve 1.54% (ex Telstra) of about $60 billion (however good that might be under the circumstances of the GFC), while the Govt has to borrow for the stimpac???

    “The object of the Fund is to strengthen the Australian
    Government’s long term financial position by making
    provision for unfunded Commonwealth superannuation
    liabilities. These liabilities will become payable at a time
    when an ageing population is likely to place significant
    pressure on the Australian Government’s finances.
    The investment mandate for the Future Fund is to
    achieve an average return of at least the Consumer
    Price Index (CPI) plus 4.5 to 5.5% per annum over the
    long term with an acceptable but not excessive level
    of risk. The long term is interpreted as rolling ten year
    The governing legislation stipulates that money may
    not be withdrawn from the Future Fund until 2020
    except for the purpose of meeting the operating costs
    or unless the Fund’s balance exceeds the target asset”

  31. Whether it’s 9% of the general population who attend christian services or 30% in our parliament, I don’t believe there is a mandate for any reference to any religion in our secular parliament. Perhaps there is some method for those who regularly practice their faith to declare that faith during their election campaign.

    I am personally offended when any one of our leaders declare, on behalf of the people of Australia, that we are all “praying” for some outcome or other. Not just because I am an athiest and against religions that go beyond a personal reflection, but because of the endorsement that it gives to religion, with all of the manipulations that go along with it.

    As for the voting pattern, it’s my experience that Catholics vote Liberal – I can’t think of any I know who don’t.

  32. TCEPSER @ 1390,

    If you look at the losses so far this financial year to date as shown in my earlier post, then it is more than difficult to see how they can achieve an average return of at least the Consumer Price Index (CPI) plus 4.5 to 5.5% per annum over the first rolling 10 year period.

    If anything, they will be extremely lucky to even catch up to the amount of the original investment in that period allowing for the bleeding of the past two years and with the GFC likely to have a major impact on investments for another two years at least and then another possibly five year recovery period.

    That money is in effect just sitting there being steadily devalued (not accounting for inflation etc) and could have produced a much better benefit to the Australian economy by being re-invested in areas that would produce a positive effect on alleviating some of the negative effects of the recession and future productivity gains through infrastructure investments which are being currently covered by mostly borrowed money at substantial interest costs.

  33. Scorpio,

    My thoughts exactly. But does “The governing legislation stipulates that money may
    not be withdrawn from the Future Fund until 2020” exclude re-legislating under GFC circumstances? I’m pretty sure that it was an election promise not to touch the Future Fund but keeping that promise just keeps us working along the same lines as the very people who got us into the GFC! The Future Fund declares that it has taken good advantage of the GFC to buy up bank debt! I’m not suggesting that that is the same as buying up packages of sub-prime mortgage debt, but neither is it productive! Our banks claim that they have to pay heavily to borrow from overseas in order to provide loans to small business. I don’t profess to have an iota of expertise in these matters, but that seems to me to be further unnecessary debt for Australia???

  34. 1386 Andrew – Don’t get me wrong. Everything you say is probably true but that is not how it is being presented in news items.

  35. It was purely a political move by the Howard Government to attempt to lock up that money so that on the unfortunate circumstances for them that they lost government, then it would be difficult for Labor to access the money.

    You can bet your life that if they were still in office, then they would have had in mind to use it for any purpose that they felt would benefit them electorally and not necessarily for any “National Benefit” which always took a back seat to the Libs electoral benefit.

  36. GB, this whole thing can only be classified as a media beat-up and until such time as it is spelled out in black and white in the Budget Papers, then it doesn’t exist as an issue. There may have been a leak to judge public opinion on it but at this point in time it is just conjecture. Time to move on!

  37. I actually think the Jekyll and Hyde thing MT is running is silly.

    What, is he saying that, to be consistent, the government should spend lavishly in the Budget?

    How does that go with his other mantra about government waste?

    Sorry, I’ve more respect for the average punter than to think they won’t also see the silliness of a position which says that a government shouldn’t save money because they’ve been spending it.

  38. TCEPSER. I don’t know where you live, but your Catholics aren’t typical. The most heavily Catholic seat in Australia is Maribyrnong, a safe Labor seat, and I would think the statistical correlation between Labor seats and proportion of Catholics would be very clear.

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